Once base of one of Belper's largest employers this imposing, 3 storey stone, classically detailed, early 19th century, framework knitting/hosiery warehouse, was erected by the Ward family to service a hugely successful hosiery home knitting business operated by Ward and Brettle.
They are said to have employed up to 6,000 knitters in Belper and the surrounding villages, marketing their products through a wholesale warehouse in London. The Brettles business became Courtaulds and, later, the warehouse was incorporated within the oil refinery production making refined oils and petroleum Jelly known as Swarfega until 2000, since when the building has been unoccupied
After a failed attempt at permission for a supermarket the site was purchased by Radleigh for housing and the building sold to a local restaurant owner to convert into a hotel. Market conditions changed and the proposals are now for apartments, a gym and restaurant, but the building has since deteriorated and been vandalised despite the owners attempts to protect it.
It is the only remnant of a much larger complex and has been much altered internally over the years, but it is still a key representative of the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site, within the Belper Conservation Area, and is at risk until its hoped for conversion takes place.